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Security Analysis of Ripple Consensus

Authors Ignacio Amores-Sesar , Christian Cachin , Jovana Mićić



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Author Details

Ignacio Amores-Sesar
  • University of Bern, Switzerland
Christian Cachin
  • University of Bern, Switzerland
Jovana Mićić
  • University of Bern, Switzerland

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Ignacio Amores-Sesar, Christian Cachin, and Jovana Mićić. Security Analysis of Ripple Consensus. In 24th International Conference on Principles of Distributed Systems (OPODIS 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 184, pp. 10:1-10:16, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2021)
https://doi.org/10.4230/LIPIcs.OPODIS.2020.10

Abstract

The Ripple network is one of the most prominent blockchain platforms and its native XRP token currently has one of the highest cryptocurrency market capitalizations. The Ripple consensus protocol powers this network and is generally considered to a Byzantine fault-tolerant agreement protocol, which can reach consensus in the presence of faulty or malicious nodes. In contrast to traditional Byzantine agreement protocols, there is no global knowledge of all participating nodes in Ripple consensus; instead, each node declares a list of other nodes that it trusts and from which it considers votes. Previous work has brought up concerns about the liveness and safety of the consensus protocol under the general assumptions stated initially by Ripple, and there is currently no appropriate understanding of its workings and its properties in the literature. This paper closes this gap and makes two contributions. It first provides a detailed, abstract description of the protocol, which has been derived from the source code. Second, the paper points out that the abstract protocol may violate safety and liveness in several simple executions under relatively benign network assumptions.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Cryptographic protocols
  • Software and its engineering → Distributed systems organizing principles
Keywords
  • Ripple
  • Blockchain
  • Quorums
  • Consensus

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